Wednesday, July 17, 2013

... on Jephthah's daughter

1) Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Jephthah's daughter, 2) Great Bishop of Geneva! : Ever Heard of Claudian Famine in Corinth, and Dinippus?

One response:
Lazar Puhalo : Jephtha's Vow and Sacrifice (Judges.Ch.11)

And Catholics agree.
This guy is either a bold face liar or he does not know the bible, I will quote the verse here.

Judges 11:39 "When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin."

You clearly say at 2m54s that it does not say that she was killed. You are wrong.
No, you are wrong. Even world famous Old Testament scholars follow his view on this. Keil and Delitzsch, for example, have pointed out that the term "burnt offering" (Hebrew, ola) show that it does not mean a literal human sacrifice in this context. Jeptha's daughter did not bewail her impending death, but her virginity (btulim), Judges 11:37-38. He and she bewailed her virginity. There was no human sacrifice here. [Kein and Delitzsch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, pp.388-95]. God never would allow it.
Lazar Puhalo
You translation/version does not match several others. When you say you "know the Bible," you should specify which version you know, since not all of them match. In any case, I offered an "possibility" and made it clear that it was merely that, and not a statement proferred as fact.

I do realise that you Atheists are always anxious to indict God for cruelty, inconsistency and vindictiveness. However, I wonder if sometimes you might not take a broader look at your highly negative vision of God.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
She died like a virgin can mean two different things:

1) she was killed and this was while she was still a virgin;

2) she never married, so when she died, later, she was still a virgin.

That was the interpretation the jumped to my attention when I reread the story.

St Augustine may have thought otherwise (not knowing exact etymology of 'olah) but he was very hesitating about all of it.
Lazar Puhalo
Not trying to softsell the matter of Jephtha's daughter. There might have been a human sacrifice, although it is forbidden by the Law. In fact, I suspect that God gave very little of the law. In the first place, there is too much in common with Hammurabi's Code to be mere coincidence, and too much of it is rather general
The contrasts between the two are even more significant than the similarities. For example, the Babylonian code makes a sharp class distinction between the free man and the semifree, as well as the slave. In Deuteronomy there is virtually no class distinction. More significant, Mosaic legislation had a deeply religious tone. In the Hammurabi code, we find a strictly impersonal style such as would be usual for a sophisticated legal system pertaining to a more urbanized society.
I was wondering....which translation were you referring to?
Lazar Puhalo
One of the versions of the Septuagint. However, "she ended as a virgin." I did not dispute your renditions either; as I mentioned, I offered a possible interpretations, but never asserted that it was correct, only a possible understanding. All Atheists use the story to substantiate atheism. No reason that you should be different than the others.
Other response:
tektontv : The Tale of Jephthah

He practically argues for same conclusion about the story, with less hesitation as to fact. There is also present an element of parody in the way arguments are put. I might have not approved that but seen that as less essential to argue about.

However, he also argues that it was a tragedy that Jephthah's daughter schemingly chose this for fear of childbirth or domestic chores. I replied that Jephthah's daughter was a promise of things to come.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
In the video you find it really tragic that Jepthah had a daughter who could come up with such a thing, but would it not occur to you that St Paul agrees (assuming you are right on the facts):

"who marries his daughter does well, who does not marry his daughter does even better"

[Quoted from memory. St Paul says "his virgin" which might be daughter or stepdaughter or sister or niece etc.]

I tend to agree with you on facts (though I have forgotten what Church Father supports me), but you miss out on her being a promise of things to come: Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin, and nuns.
That's a creative point, but really rather unnecessary. Particularly since Paul's directive was made under conditions of famine in the Corinth area.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
Not really.

Whether there was a famine or not (Corinth is rather infertile and depends on trade anyway) the words of St Paul are there for all of the Church for all ages up to the Second Coming.

Meaning Catholics and Orthodox have got it right, and Protestants (over last five hundred years where they have been) wrong.
The context was there in the first first century. That means adding your own is illicit, regardless of which church you are with.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
The context in first century includes verses 32 - 40. Of chapter 7 of I Cor.

They speak of excellency of non-married state in general.

Detracting that context to substitute for it an archaeological or fake archaeological one is illicit, regardless of which confession you have.

Care to defend the famine theory from the Bible or is it just hearsay from expertise? Famine in Corinth back then is like "famine in New York". Not a question of farms in the backland, but of trade.
No, it doesn't speak of the "excellency" of it. It relates particular advantages of it.

You want to deal with the famine idea, try Winter's After Paul Left Corinth. It will be amusing to see you take on a real scholar.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
Quoting book review:

"Severe grain shortages, the relocation of the Isthmian Games, the introduction of a new federal imperial cult, the withdrawal of kosher meat from the official market-all of these cultural events had a substantial impact on the life of the emerging Christian community."

Temporary severe grain shortages - granted as possible. Chronically so? I find that hard to believe, as I have not the book here, can you tell me what he based it on?
Evidence. Go read it all, not just a preview. And Paul doesn't tell other people to be celibate for life. Also, 1 Cor. 7:1 is a Corinthian slogan he quotes back.

I don't allow multi-comments. Other 2 deleted. And don't just make up lame excuse-questions like "how lasting" as a way to get around the point. That's based on you wanting to reach your conclusion, not on evidence.
Hans-Georg Lundahl
[my answer not yet allowed to appear, but repeats a point given in one deleted answer, that 3 grain shortages attested throught ten inscriptions actually praising the official responsible for grain imports are hardly evidence that grain shortage was so severe in Corinth as to warrant by itself perpetual virginity. As to "And Paul doesn't tell other people to be celibate for life" I answered that by fact he was so himself and by his preference stated in verse 7.

Grain shortage would have been more often occurring more severely in 16th C Germany of Luthre or Switzerland of Zwingli and Oecolampadius than in 1st C Corinth.

Above all since there is an apologetic parallel between Jephthah's daughter and Isaac, he should be prepared there is also a typological one - understood as if Isaac points to Jesus, then Jephthah's daughter to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Nuns and the Virgin Martyrs.]
Hans-Georg Lundahl
"And Paul doesn't tell other people to be celibate for life."

Verse 7 he does. He never married.

I did not "get around" the point. You did. Lasting grainj shortages were far likelier in 16th C Germany and Switzerland than in 1st C Corinth.

There is an apologetic parallel between Isaac and Jephthah's daughter.

Should warn you there is a typological too.

Look for parallel words between Judges and Corinthians or betw Corinthians and your explanaition on video.
Please, spare me. His own experience (v. 7) is not an instruction to others. And what he wishes for others to have is his self-control (v 5) not his celibacy, Stop mangling the text to serve your purposes. Yes, you're evading the point, and don't give me any lame claims of "typology" (which are likely forced on your part) or of "words" (since they are 2 different languages).

That will be all. I have a rule here about off topic comments, and have allowed you more than enough.
not under his video (since he requested so), only here:
Disingenious. But what can one expect from a Protestant. The factual points in video are still good.
I Corinthians chapter 7:
Link to Douay Rheims version with Haydock comment
Winter's book, link
After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change, Mr. Bruce W. Winter
Quote from index page:

11. The Present Crisis and the Consummation of Marriage
(1. Corinthians 7:25-38) 241

'He Who Marries ... He Who Does Not Marry' (7:38)
I. Personal Dilemmas Aggravated by the Present Dislocation 241
II. Eschatology and Youth's EXpectations of This Life 253
III. Christian Obligations for Singles and Marrieds 263.

My comment:
We see then that there is a certain moral context rather than a merely topical one for the advice.
Quote about grain:
Page 6: There is also evidence that three severe grain shortages occurred in Corinth during the early days of the Church.

Plate 7 The inscription of Tiberius Claudius Dinippus, who was in charge of the grain supply for famine relief on three separate occasions in Corinth during the early years of the Christian community. For inscriptions to him which mentioned his role three times as curator annonae see, e.g., Kent, Corinth, 8.3, nos. 158-63 (Reproduced by permission of the American School of Archaeology in Corinth.) See pp. 216-18.
My comment:
Here he takes curator annonae as an official dealing with famine relief. What I have learned from Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome, the Annona was not for famines but for paupers. Anyone who was not ashamed to do so could get his part in the annona. If you could afford grain yourself, maybe you did not. My point about "famine in New York" stands. The three severe grain shortages are only three occasions on which Tiberius Claudius Dinippus was having the honorary office of heading a kind of Caesarian socialism. One that was still going on in the times of St Genevieve's father (the Medieval legend she "herded sheep" as a child comes from her real involvement in the food handouts that had been going on since Julius Caesar).

Even if you took the annona, that did not mean you were "too poor to marry".

But even if there had been a kind of argument, the traditional reading of I Corinthians 7 cannot be overthrown by some archeological find, 2000 years after the text, since a Church having been in the meantime misunderstanding is against end of St Matthew or against "Pillar and Foundation of Truth" claim for the Church.

Paul and Empire edited by Richard A. Horsley does mention Dinippus. Now, the footnotes they give as evidence for famine under Clau-Clau-Clau-Claudius "in Corinth" (their conclusion) are Tacitus Annales 12:43 as well as Suetonius, 12 Caesars, Claudius 18. Neither of these speak of grain shortage in Corinth more than anywhere else, both of grain shortage in Rome. Perhaps a question of bad logistics about a city getting more and more overdimensioned? Hardly a parallel for Corinth. Refounded in 44 by Caesar, therefore close enough to its recent planners. However, the grain shortage in Rome was seen as a prodigy, as supernatural. The grain shortage can very well return tomorrow if God is enough provoked. If Dinippus was no more use in Corinth than Claudius in Rome, well, then these situations may soon return to the world.

Here is Haydock Bible Commentary on 11:31

Ver. 31. Whosoever, &c. Some are of opinion, that the meaning of this vow of Jephte, was to consecrate to God whatsoever should first meet him, according to the condition of the thing; so as to offer it up as a holocaust, if it were such a thing as might be so offered by the law; or to devote it otherwise to God, if it were not such as the law allowed to be offered in sacrifice. And therefore they think the daughter of Jephte was not slain by her father, but only consecrated to perpetual virginity. But the common opinion followed by the generality of the holy fathers and divines is, that she was offered as a holocaust, in consequence of her father's vow: and that Jephte did not sin, at least not mortally, neither in making nor in keeping his vow; since he is no ways blamed for it in scripture; and was even inspired by God himself to make the vow, (as appears from ver. 29, 30.) in consequence of which he obtained the victory; and therefore he reasonably concluded that God, who is the master of life and death, was pleased, on this occasion, to dispense with his own law; and that it was the divine will he should fulfil his vow. (Challoner)

St. Thomas [Aquinas] (2. 2. q. 88. a. 2.) acknowledges that Jephte was inspired to make a vow, and his devotion herein is praised by the apostle, Hebrews xi. 32. But he afterwards followed his own spirit, in delivering himself, without mature deliberation, and in executing what he had so ill engaged himself to perform. This decision seems to be the most agreeable to the Scripture, and to the holy fathers. St. Jerome (in Jer. vii.) says, non sacrificium placet, sed animus offerentis. "If Jephte offered his virgin daughter, it was not the sacrifice, but the good will of the offerer which deserves applause." Almost all the ancients seem to agree that the virgin was really burnt to death; and the versions have whosoever, which intimates that Jephte intended to offer a human victim; particularly as he could not expect a beast fit for such a purpose, would come out of the doors of his house to meet him. (Calmet)

Yet many of the moderns, considering how much such things are forbidden by God, cannot persuade themselves that Jephte should be so ignorant of the law, or that the priests and people of Israel should suffer him to transgress it. The original may be rendered as well, "whatsoever proceedeth....shall surely be the Lord's, and (Protestants) or I will offer it up for a holocaust." (Pagnin. &c.)

The version of Houbigant is very favourable to this opinion. See Hook's Principia.

It is supposed that the sacrifice of Iphigenia, which took place about this time, (Aulis. v. 26,) was only in imitation of this of Jephte's daughter. But the poets say, that Diana saved her life, and substituted a doe in her place; (Ovid, Met. xii.) which, if true, would make the conformity more striking, if we admit that the sacrifice of Jephte's daughter was not carried into effect. Iphigenia was made a priestess of Diana, to whom human victims were immolated. The daughter of Jephte, whom the false Philo calls Seila, was consecrated to the Lord, and shut up (Haydock) to lead a kind of monastic life; as the wives of David, (2 Kings xx. 3.; Grotius) after they had been dishonoured, were obliged to live in a state of continency. Although (Haydock) forced chastity be not a virtue, (Calmet) yet Jephte had no reason to believe that his daughter would not enter into the spirit of his vow, and embrace that state for God's honour and service. We know that she gave her entire consent to whatever might be the nature of his vow; and surely she would be as ready to refrain from marriage, however desirable at that time, as to be burnt alive, which would effectually prevent her from becoming a mother, ver. 37. To require this of her, was not, at least, more cruel in her father than to offer her in sacrifice. The Chaldean paraphrast says, "Jephte did not consult Phinees, the priest, or he might have redeemed her;" and Kimchi gives us a very mean idea, both of Jephte and of the high priest, the great Phinees, whom the Rabbins foolishly suppose was still living, and of course above 300 years old, ver. 26.

"Phinees said, He wants me, let him come to me. But Jephte, the head of the princes of Israel, shall I go to him? During this contest the girl perished." To such straits are those reduced who wish to account for the neglect of Jephte in redeeming his daughter, as the Targum observes, was lawful for a sum of money, Leviticus xxvii. 2, 3, 28.

But (Haydock) his vow was of the nature of the cherom, which allowed of no redemption, and required death. (Calmet)

On this point, however, interpreters are not agreed, and this manner of devoting to death, probably, regarded only the enemies of God, or such things as were under a person's absolute dominion. (Haydock)

If a dog had first come out to meet Jephte, could he have offered it up for a holocaust? Certainly not, (Grotius) because it was prohibited, (Deuteronomy xxiii. 18,) to offer even its price, (Haydock) and only oxen, sheep, goats, turtles and doves, were the proper victims. If, therefore, a person made a vow, of a man, he was to be consecrated to the Lord, (Grotius) like Samuel, and he might marry. But a woman could not, as she was already declared the servant of the Lord, and was not at liberty to follow her husband. (Amama)

We need not herein labour to defend the conduct of Jephte. The Scripture does not canonize him on this account. If he did wrong, his repentance, and other heroic acts of virtue, might justly entitle him to be ranked among the saints of the old law. (St. Augustine, q. 49)

"Shew me the man who has not fallen into sin....Jephte returned victorious from the enemy, but in the midst of his triumph, he was overcome by his own vow, so that he thought it proper to requite the piety of his daughter, who came out to meet him, by parricide. In the first place, what need was there of making a vow so hastily, to promise things uncertain, the event of which he knew not, instead of what was certain? Then why did he perform so sorrowful a vow to the Lord God, by shedding blood?" (St. Ambrose, Apol. Dav. i. 4.)

This saint adopts the common opinion that Jephte really immolated his daughter. But he is far from thinking that he was influenced by the holy spirit to make the vow, otherwise he would never represent it in such odious colours. If God had required the life of Jephte's daughter, as he did formerly command Abraham to sacrifice his son, the obedience and faith of the former would have been equally applauded, as the good will of the latter. But most of those who embrace the opinion that Jephte sacrificed his daughter, are forced to excuse or to condemn the action. They suppose that he was permitted to fulfil his vow, that others might be deterred from making similar promises, without the divine authority. (St. Chrysostom, hom. xiv. ad pop. Ant.; St. Jerome, contra Jov. i.) "I shall never, says St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 12,) be induced to believe that Jephte, the prince, did not promise incautiously that he would immolate whatever should meet him,...since he repented of his vow," &c. We may observe that this great Doctor supposes, that Jepthe promised to sacrifice the first thing that should meet him "at the door of his own house;" whence he seems to take whosoever in the same latitude as we have given in the Hebrew. He concludes, "I cannot accuse the man who was obliged to fulfil his vow," &c. We may imitate his moderation, (Haydock) rather than adopt the bold language of one who has written notes on the Protestant Bible, (1603) who says, without scruple, that by this rash vow and wicked performance, his victory was defaced; and again, that he was overcome with blind zeal, not considering whether the vow was lawful or not. (Worthington).

If Jephte was under the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost in what he did, as Salien believes, and the context by no means disproves, we ought to admire the faith of this victorious judge, though he gave way to the feelings of human nature, ver. 35. We should praise his fidelity either in sacrificing or in consecrating his daughter to God's service in perpetual virginity: but if he followed his own spirit, we cannot think that he was so ill-informed or so barbarous as to murder his daughter, nor that she would consent to an impiety which so often disgraced the pagan superstition, though she might very well agree to embrace that better part, which her father and God himself, by a glorious victory, seemed to have marked out for her. Amid the variety of opinions which have divided the learned on this subject, infidels can derive no advantage or solid proof against the divine authority of the Scripture, and of our holy religion. The fact is simply recorded. People are at liberty to form what judgment of it they think most rational. If they decide that Jepthe was guilty of an oversight, or of a downright impiety, it will in the first place be difficult for them to prove it to the general satisfaction; and when they have done so, they will only evince that he was once a sinner, and under this idea the word of God gives him no praise. But if he did wrong in promising, as many of the Fathers believe, he might be justified in fulfilling his vow, as God might intimate to him both interiorly, and by granting him the victory, that he dispensed with his own law, and required this sort of victim in order to foreshew the bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, (Serarius and Salien, in the year of the world 2850) or the state of virginity which his blessed Mother and so many nuns and others in the Christian Church embrace with fervour.

Peace, with victory.

Same. Hebrew, "it shall be the Lord's, and (or) I will make it ascend a whole burnt-offering." (Haydock)

The particle ve often signifies or as well as and, and it is explained in this sense here by the two Kimchis, by Junius, &c. See Exodus xxi. 17. Piscator says, the first part of the sentence determines that whatever the thing was it should be consecrated to the Lord, with the privilege of being redeemed, (Leviticus xxvii. 11,) and the second shews that it should be immolated, if it were a suitable victim. (Amama)


St Thomas on Jephthah and generally vows and what they should be about:


Objection 2. Further, Jephte is included among the saints (Hebrews 11:32). Yet he killed his innocent daughter on account of his vow (Judges 11). Since, then, the slaying of an innocent person is not a better good, but is in itself unlawful, it seems that a vow may be made not only about a better good, but also about something unlawful.


On the contrary, It is written (Deuteronomy 23:22): "If thou wilt not promise thou shalt be without sin."

I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), a vow is a promise made to God. Now a promise is about something that one does voluntarily for someone else: since it would be not a promise but a threat to say that one would do something against someone. On like manner it would be futile to promise anyone something unacceptable to him. Wherefore, as every sin is against God, and since no work is acceptable to God unless it be virtuous, it follows that nothing unlawful or indifferent, but only some act of virtue, should be the matter of a vow. But as a vow denotes a voluntary promise, while necessity excludes voluntariness, whatever is absolutely necessary, whether to be or not to be, can nowise be the matter of a vow. For it would be foolish to vow that one would die or that one would not fly.

On the other hand, if a thing be necessary. not absolutely but on the supposition of an end--for instance if salvation be unattainable without it--it may be the matter of a vow in so far as it is done voluntarily, but not in so far as there is a necessity for doing it. But that which is not necessary, neither absolutely, nor on the supposition of an end, is altogether voluntary, and therefore is most properly the matter of a vow. And this is said to be a greater good in comparison with that which is universally necessary for salvation. Therefore, properly speaking, a vow is said to be about a better good.


Reply to Objection 2. Certain things are good, whatever be their result; such are acts of virtue, and these can be, absolutely speaking, the matter of a vow: some are evil, whatever their result may be; as those things which are sins in themselves, and these can nowise be the matter of a vow: while some, considered in themselves, are good, and as such may be the matter of a vow, yet they may have an evil result, in which case the vow must not be kept. It was thus with the vow of Jephte, who as related in Judges 11:30-31, "made a vow to the Lord, saying: If Thou wilt deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, whosoever shall first come forth out of the doors of my house, and shall meet me when I return in peace . . . the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord." For this could have an evil result if, as indeed happened, he were to be met by some animal which it would be unlawful to sacrifice, such as an ass or a human being. Hence Jerome says [Implicitly 1 Contra Jovin.: Comment. in Micheam vi, viii: Comment. in Jerem. vii. The quotation is from Peter Comestor, Hist. Scholast.]: "In vowing he was foolish, through lack of discretion, and in keeping his vow he was wicked." Yet it is premised (Judges 11:29) that "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him," because his faith and devotion, which moved him to make that vow, were from the Holy Ghost; and for this reason he is reckoned among the saints, as also by reason of the victory which he obtained, and because it is probable that he repented of his sinful deed, which nevertheless foreshadowed something good.



As to St Augustine's view, I will look up the 28 paragraph's of Quaestiones in Heptatechum, Book 7, chapter 49, which deals with Jephthah's daughter, but not here. Will update with a link when ready./HGL

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